It’s not every day you get to go to New York City, just as it’s not every day you get to celebrate 26.5 years of marriage.
And to do both at the same time one has to be doubly blessed, and that’s pretty much how I felt throughout a recent stay in the Big Apple – I kept saying “I can’t believe we are here” over and over, mostly in my head but out loud on occasion too and it doesn’t matter on the streets of NYC because anything goes.
Now I should explain that the financial, cultural, media, advertising and possibly sports capital of the world has been on our bucket list for awhile now and we were supposed to go during our silver wedding anniversary, but due to health and financial concerns the best we could do was New Denver, which although nice and much, much cheaper, didn’t quite cut it, at least with half of us.
Although, I feel I could recommend both destinations for very different reasons.
Once we booked and found out our son, currently on a discovery tour of North America, could make himself available in NYC at the same time (free room and board anywhere, let alone NYC, does the trick every time) and a sister (maid of honour) and brother-in-law from Fredericton could drop down for a few days too, the party was on.
Our bargain Kelowna-Edmonton-Toronto-Laguardia flight was a bit late landing in NYC, and once we figured out Uber from a very friendly and capable young employee at the airport, we were on our way hoping to spend the last hour or two of our first day in New York with a drink in our hand to celebrate.
After a friendly greeting at the hotel (who says New Yorkers are rude anyway?), we moved on to thinking about picking up our son at Grand Central Station the next day.
Now, how cool is that? A scene out of Hollywood — a pair of parents, along with an aunt and an uncle, greet their long-lost son (nearly three months anyway) at the iconic, huge, majestic train station featured in so many movies and shows and…except we’re all Canadians so maybe it’s only on CBC, but still.
The night before I didn’t sleep so well, not due to the anticipation of the next day so much, as the fact that I left the window open and the symphony of sounds that is New York, mostly the honking of horns and the sirens of emergency vehicles, continues all night long. Lesson learned.
However, the next morning as we headed down 8th Avenue amidst the hustle and bustle of a sea of humanity, you realize the honking of horns and blasting of sirens, along with the smell of baking, pizza, coffee, dope and a hint of garbage, the sights of skyscrapers and giant billboards (electronic and otherwise) and the feel of concrete and pavement beneath your feet, all add up to the sensuous soundtrack of the city that never sleeps.
Although I marvelled that no one was killed as there’s a constant battle between pedestrians and vehicles over the right of way (with the odd bicycle thrown in), where traffic signals are taken more as suggestions than commands, I felt safe in the Big Apple.
There are cops everywhere, some with machine guns, but they also answer tourist questions so it’s all good.
I see the New York Times building and have to get a picture taken at the most famous and prestigious newspaper of all.
The Thomson-Reuters building isn’t far away and you realize this is media heaven after all, if you’re into that sort of thing.
We had tickets for Stephen Colbert at the historic Ed Sullivan Theatre and although we’re herded like sheep for much of the time, his all-Trump monologue is bang on as usual, and I marvel at the fact that I could be using the same bathroom as The Beatles did when they debuted in North America on Ed’s show.
I mention this to the usher who informs me not to forget Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Jim Morrison. I tease her that she doesn’t look old enough to remember The Beatles but she counters with “Maybe not, but I remember Paul McCartney who was here last week.” Got me there.
That’s the thing about New York. Everything is larger than life. Everything is abuzz with excitement and possibility. Where taking a leak becomes something to write home about.
It’s a place where you can meet people from Norway, Switzerland, Albania, Germany, England, Scotland, Italy, Columbia and Ecuador — and that’s just in the elevator at our hotel.
I asked our hotel desk clerk why she lived in the Big Apple when she grew up in Chicago. “It’s New York,” she shrugged and smiled and it was a sufficient and complete answer. You want to be a part of it, someone once sang.
We went on to do Guggenheim, Central Park, Times Square, Wall Street, two Broadway plays (go see Come From Away at the first opportunity, especially if you happen to be a Canadian), 911 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island (where my grandmother arrived from Norway in 1918 and it’s recorded there), a baseball playoff game at Yankee Stadium, Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, a Giants game at MetLife Stadium and, although all stirring in their own right, we barely scratched the surface.
And although we may have taken only a nibble out of the Big Apple, it was tasty indeed and we’ll be back, hopefully before our 51.5th anniversary.
Glenn Mitchell is a former editor of The Morning Star